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News ::
New study shows 1 in 8 Health Care Workers Lack Insurance
25 Feb 2002
Aides in nursing homes hardest hit…
Boston -- A new study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health finds that one out of every 8 health care workers lacks medical insurance, far more than a decade ago.

According to the authors, 1.36 million health care personnel were uninsured in 1998, up 83.4% from 1988. The proportion uninsured rose from 8.4% to 12.2%. The study attributes the declining coverage rate to the growth of the workforce in private-sector health care -- and falling health employment in the public-sector, which tends to provide health benefits to more of its workers.

While insurance coverage fell for virtually every health occupation in every sector, some groups fared worse than others did. In 1998, 20.0% of personnel in nursing homes were uninsured -- more than in other health settings. By comparison, only 8.2% of hospital workers were uninsured.

Among occupational groups, 'aides' experienced the highest rate of un-insurance -- 23.8%. Food service, cleaning, building service and laundry workers also had low rates of coverage -- 19.7%. Black and Hispanic personnel were at least twice as likely as white health personnel to lack insurance.

Unionized workers had higher rates of insurance than did nonunion health workers. In 1998, 7.8% of union members were uninsured versus 13.3% of nonunion workers.

"It's just outrageous that so many caregivers are uninsured," said Celia Wcislo, president of SEIU Local 285. "So many nursing homes complain about not being able to retain staff. Providing decent health insurance is an important first step."

The study analyzed data from a national survey of approximately 150,000 US residents conducted annually by the Census Bureau. It analyzed all employees in physicians’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes and other health services settings. Physicians, nurses, managers, aides, food service, cleaning, building service, laundry workers, and clerical and administrative support workers were among the groups examined.

For copies of the American Journal of Public Health article or to set up an interview with an uninsured nurse's aide, call Rand Wilson at the above number.
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